Evacuation order lifted for all Fort McMurray oilsands camps

A mandatory evacuation order has been rescinded for the remaining oilsands camps in the Fort McMurray area that were evacuated last week.

Workers won't be able to return until health inspections are completed

Flames are visible about four kilometres down the road from Noralta Lodge last week. (Name withheld by request)

A mandatory evacuation order has been rescinded for the remaining oilsands camps in the Fort McMurray area that were evacuated last week.

Workers won't be able to return, however, until Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Health Services complete fire and health inspections to ensure occupant safety.

There is no timeline set for these inspections, but they will be completed as soon as possible, said Robin Smith, press secretary for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Phased re-entry is now underway for the following camps on Aostra Road, north of Fort McMurray, and on Highway 63, south of Fort McMurray:

  • Suncor Baseline and MacKay River
  • Brion Energy (all camps)
  • Birch Mountain
  • Sunshine
  • Production facilities accessed by Aostra Road
  • AOC
  • Hangingstone
  • Great Sand Tiger
  • Grayling Creek Fire Base

The mandatory evacuation order for the Fort McMurray and Anzac areas remains in place.

The wildlfire remains out of control, and currently covers more than 520,000 hectares of land, including 741 hectares in Saskatchewan.

Despite rainfall in much of Alberta over the May long weekend, fire conditions remain extreme in northeastern Alberta.

Evacuation order already lifted for some camps

Workers were forced to leave oilsands camps on May 16, when the wildfire came dangerously close.

Some oilsands camps had their evacuation orders lifted on Saturday, after officials said conditions in the area had improved. 

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said Saturday morning the evacuation order had been lifted from the following oilsands camps:

  • Millennium
  • Borealis
  • Hudson
  • Noralta
  • Ruth Lake
  • Suncor Base Plant
  • Syncrude Mildred Lake Plant
A map of Noralta's oilsands camps. Noralta provides lodging for workers from major oilsands facilities surrounding Fort McMurray. (Noralta)

Re-entry to Fort McMurray begins June 1

Officials also announced on Saturday a re-entry plan for the city of Fort McMurray.

Residents from Fort McMurray's lower townsite and areas south of the city will be among the first allowed back in next month in a plan that could begin June 1.

The voluntary, phased re-entry will occur by zones to ensure residents have access to necessary services, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said in a media release on Saturday.

Re-entry will occur over at least four days:

  • Zone 1: Lower Townsite, Anzac, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation, Gregoire Lake Estates (June 1).
  • Zone 2: Parsons Creek, Stone Creek, Timberlea, Eagle Ridge, Dickinsfield (June 2).
  • Zone 3: Thickwood, Wood Buffalo (June 3).
  • Zone 4(a): Gregoire, Prairie Creek, Saprae Creek Estates (June 3).
  • Zone 4(b): Waterways, Abasand, Beacon Hill, Grayling Terrace, Draper (June 4).

More information about re-entry is listed on the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo website